Fashion East had an all-female lineup this season. On the rota for Lulu Kennedy's incubator were newbie Louise Alsop, Helen Lawrence, and Ashley Williams. This was Williams' third and final shot at the Fashion East runway, and she presented an equine-themed whimsical collection. The designer's father comes from the deep American South, and she had just returned from spending a few months in a Mississippi town so small she couldn't remember its name. (Maybe she was a little distracted because the proceedings were held up for Harry Styles, only for him to be a no-show—disappointing every girl in the crowd.) Anyway, back in that nameless U.S. town, Williams was given an heirloom hat that had belonged to her great-grandmother, which became the prototype for the amusing Amish-style hats that set off the tone. Williams' kooky accessories are a talking point—she loved furry little animals well before a crazed Fendi bug came along—and this season's bags were typically adorable. There was a clutch with a horse motif (with fringing to mimic its mane), little pink piggies with pearl handles, and a snake-print bag shaped like the state of Texas. There were also multicolored cowboy boots that had camera flashes popping in the audience. The looks that came down were correspondingly youthful and purposefully lightweight: silver overalls, slouchy jeans, and sweaters with kitten motifs. Then there were leather looks with the horse theme, again with hanging fringe. It was all fun and Susie Bubble-esque until one exceptionally tailored, sleek, and expensive-looking black coat came out—it was definitely more West End than East. Even though Williams has owned the cutesy, Shoreditch-chic thing, she's also a pretty deft hand at sophisticated tailoring. All in all, it was more than OK at Ashley Williams' corral.
Things went a little caveman with the rising star of knitwear, ex-Craig Green collaborator Helen Lawrence. Cutout leather and suede tops came out in a patchwork shape that one would expect to see on Barney Rubble and Fred Flintstone. The effect was made even cooler by its pairing with double-brushed wool felted skirts and trousers, deconstructed coats and jackets. Lawrence continued on with last season's trick of vinyl "squiggle" embroidery—hitting the up-cycling theme of which we're seeing more and more. The dark goth look Lawrence is normally associated with was a little tempered today: Granny Smith apple green mohair sweaters and lavender skirts lightened everything up, and the multilayered technique the designer loves appeared on cropped tops and skirts. Overall, it was a very good showing.
Then there was newcomer Louise Alsop, who presented a collection that spoke to East London streets. It was mostly monochrome, except for a shot of mint green, with lots of layered chiffon and staggered hems. Alsop even put her models in laddered socks and plimsolls for a moody-teenager vibe. The designer clearly wants you to remember her name, because she embroidered it on her flowy poncho over pleated culottes, with jagged threads hanging loose from the signature. Also displayed were slogans like "hopeless" or "loveless" scrawled down trouser legs and on sweatshirts—a reference, Alsop said, to tattoos on the knuckles of street urchins. These kids are going to gigs, too, as she had printed images of crowds at concerts on T-shirts, skirts, and shorts. Then there was the milk bottle clutch, which was cool and very youthful—are Alsop's customers even old enough to drink the real stuff? Alsop herself is young, and that may explain why the collection was just a little bit timid. With the time and tutoring she'll receive from Lulu Kennedy and her team, that should get sorted out.